The pink bear rebel strikes again in the city we call home, with perhaps his most controversial piece yet. Two identical murals, one located at Ibrox, home of the Rangers football club, and one at Celtic park, have appeared in the last few weeks. The Image portrays the Pope, head of the Catholic church sporting a Rangers scarf, whereas the Queen- head of the typically protestant establishment- wears a Celtic green. The two figures seem to be enjoying a friendly game without tension, possibly a comment on how this could and should be possible for the teams in question. However, this significant switch around of colours will not be taken too kindly by many fans.
The two Glasgow teams have been each other’s not so friendly competition since 1887, when Celtic was established, and remain a thorn in our city’s side. The problem is not simply two football teams determined to win a game- it is the sectarian hate that makes “The Old Firm” more dangerous. When Rangers was formed in 1872, its fan base tended to be made up of the Scottish establishment, the more wealthy Protestant population, whereas fifteen years later Celtic promised to bring money and jobs into the poorer east end of the city, and therefore attracted supporters from those areas- typically those of the Catholic faith, most often Irish immigrants.
Ever since, sectarian hatred has fuelled this rivalry, often ending in blood shed- violent attacks increase nine-fold in Glasgow on Old Firm match weekends, while back at home domestic violence has been shown to rise by 43%. In 2009, a Celtic fan was beaten to death in a kebab shop after a match by a Rangers supporter, two years before a Glasgow University student was stabbed to death on his way home after watching a Celtic match. Such incidents are numerous, and haunt our city’s past.
Though many attempts have been made to combat such hatred, such as the banning of Celtic supporters from Ibrox, or the banning of alcohol in the stadium, sectarian songs are still sung and banners are still hung. Hence why the Pink Bear Rebel’s recent work is so poignant, and so controversial. This mural should hopefully make some people walking around Ibrox and Celtic park think about how trivial this rivalry which has caused so much anguish really is, as a pink bear with a can of spray paint essentially mocks them. However it makes you feel, be sure that Glasgow remembers.
-Skye Brettell, Arts Editor